Talarico's vs. Northlake Tavern and Pizza House
Unlike steak, there is no animal from which a pizza is cleaved, nothing—save for the size of the oven—to restrict a pizza’s proportions. (But imagine for a second what a wonderful world it would be if cattle made of dough roamed the open range.) And so the weighty responsibility of balancing boundless circumference with the bounds of good taste falls to the pie slinger.
Take Talarico’s, where the mammoth, individually sold slices are isosceles monuments to the power of perception: Yeah, it looks like you’re getting a lot for your money—14 inches from point to outer edge is an intimidating portion—but you’re paying $6 for it; the whole thing smells of gimmickry. Which isn’t to say it’s lackluster: The Coppola—Talarico’s thin yet dense crust covered with spritzes of goat cheese, long ribbons of roasted red peppers, and a dash of garlic—makes an admirable attempt at elevating the classic East Coast slice.
Northlake Tavern, on the other hand, favors depth to surface area. (Credit the appetite of its U Dub clientele for making that formula a success for more than 50 years.) Diameterwise, the meat eater’s special is no bigger than your average pie, but it sags under the weight of mounds—and mounds—of thick-cut pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and chunks of beef sausage that advance to the crust’s borders like Italy’s answer to Manifest Destiny. It’s edible expansionism, where the terrain is soft with fields of gooey mozzarella and provolone and the rivers run spicy with marinara—you know, the kind of place where a mythical beast of yeast and flour might graze. And for the lover of all things big, it’s the Pizza Promised Land.
BOTTOM LINE: Northlake Tavern weighs in with proof that sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing.
Pagliacci vs. Zeeks
Like us, the peeps at Pagliacci and Zeeks categorically reject the notion that delivery pizza, by virtue of its inherently low effort-to-enjoyment ratio, need only be edible to be satisfying. Because really: Why, in a city where it takes longer to drive to a pizza joint than it does to bake the pie, should anyone be denied the right to an exceptional dial-and-dine experience?
We’ll forgive Pagliacci its Orwellian practice of answering the phone by reciting our name and address back to us because, well, the less we have to talk, the sooner the pizza will get here. But we can’t excuse the crust: Why dream up tantalizing topping combos like marinated chicken, artichoke hearts, red onion, peppers, and ricotta cheese only to plop them on the hand-tossed equivalent of a Kenny G concert? It says something about the quality of those toppings that Pagliacci has reigned over the delivery world for more than 30 years, ever since it began as an Italian family hole-in-the-wall on the Ave.
So that’s why the following pronouncement might come as a shock. On all counts, the relative newcomer Zeeks (it opened in ’93) is the czar of delivery ’za. From the airy, buttery crust, to the tangy-yet-sweet marinara, a Zeeks pie is a flat-out delicious disk of awesome. Even on the überpopular Puget Pounder—piled with Canadian bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, and Italian sausage—the toppings are so flavorful, you’ll taste each one.
Zeeks’ only misstep: Its online ordering option. Makes sense in theory—we go the delivery route expressly to cut down on person-to-person interaction—but they call seconds later to confirm your order. A responsible, prank order–prevention tactic to be sure, but the extra interaction has no place in our antisocial eating.
BOTTOM LINE: Tasty Zeeks makes it safe to phone in dinner.